Definition of twiddle in English:

twiddle

verb

[WITH OBJECT]
  • 1Twist, move, or fiddle with (something), typically in a purposeless or nervous way.

    ‘she twiddled the dials on the radio’
    no object ‘he began twiddling with the curtain cord’
    • ‘She looked down at her podium and nervously twiddled her fingers.’
    • ‘Remixing sometimes sounds like twiddling the radio tuner rapidly through different stations.’
    • ‘If I'd been wearing a tie, I'd have started twiddling it and doing slow burns to an unseen camera.’
    • ‘‘This is what I normally do,’ he says, twiddling his locks to show the effect he's after.’
    • ‘He moved his hands in front of his face and started twiddling his fingers.’
    • ‘Pachinko is a vertical pinball game where one feeds little steel balls into the top of the machine, and tries to manipulate their passage down the machine by twiddling a knob, in order to win… more balls.’
    • ‘I slouch down in my seat, twiddling my fingers nervously.’
    • ‘I made her a hat out of some really fuzzy, soft yarn, and watched as she reached up to rip it off… and then stopped, and just kept twiddling it between thumb and fingers.’
    • ‘We are on the balls of our feet, like tennis players awaiting service, anxiously twiddling our sticks.’
    • ‘He mumbled, twiddling his fingers like a young and nervous child.’
    • ‘The short and jittery teacher was always twiddling his hands annoyingly, stuttering when he spoke and nervously rocking back and forth, as he stood.’
    • ‘She was nervously twiddling a pen between her fingers.’
    • ‘It was enough to leave reporters twiddling their pens, looking for answers, perhaps from a higher source.’
    • ‘I don't want to see any more square-headed blokes twiddling knobs.’
    • ‘He twiddled a button on the collar of his navy blue shirt.’
    • ‘Their natural sense of adventure and competitiveness is channelled into ‘action’ computer games - although all the action involved is sitting on your bum, twiddling your fingers.’
    • ‘She nervously twiddled her fingers together, looking completely uncomfortable.’
    • ‘Melanie dropped her bags and twiddled her fingers nervously.’
    • ‘He tweaks a knob, he twiddles a dial, he hits a button, and the noise changes on his command.’
    • ‘My dad started, twiddling his fingers nervously.’
    turn, twist, swivel, twirl, adjust, move, jiggle
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1archaic no object Turn or move in a twirling way.

noun

  • 1An act of twisting or fiddling with something.

    ‘one twiddle of a button’
    • ‘The evolutionists just give the knobs of the ‘mechanism’ a twiddle here and there to ‘explain’ the data.’
    • ‘With darker or lighter, this is easily done at the twiddle of a knob.’
    1. 1.1 A twisted or curled mark or design.
      ‘twiddles and twirls’
      • ‘The table is short of curlicues and twiddles and fancy bits.’
    2. 1.2 A rapid or intricate series of musical notes.
      ‘surprising little twiddles from the woodwinds and horns’
      • ‘In the anteroom, little knots of people emit a cacophony of twangs and twiddles while, in the adjacent baronial hall, by a framed portrait of our hero, Dickie Speake's band is limbering up.’

Phrases

  • twiddle one's thumbs

    • 1Rotate one's thumbs round each other with the fingers linked together.

      • ‘She began twiddling her thumbs together and staring at the wall ahead of her.’
      • ‘Brooke stopped twiddling her thumbs, and pressed their tips together.’
      • ‘The twenty-year-old twiddled his thumbs in front of him as he walked around and around.’
      • ‘‘Well, you followed me,’ Trent pointed out with a smile, twiddling his thumbs together as he made himself more comfortable on the ground.’
      • ‘The General looked around quite nervously, twiddling his thumbs behind his back.’
      • ‘He perched on the edge of the seat twiddling his thumbs while gazing around the room.’
      • ‘To my surprise, she was actually twiddling her thumbs while looking around herself, a politely bored expression on her face.’
      • ‘The Banshee sighs as she twiddles her thumbs around each other.’
      • ‘My father looked to the ground and twiddled his thumbs against each other.’
      • ‘‘He says some b-b-bad things to me sometimes,’ Jamie said twiddling his thumbs together nervously.’
      1. 1.1Be bored or idle because one has nothing to do.
        ‘I have been sitting here for goodness knows how long twiddling my thumbs’
        • ‘The worst thing you can do is retire and then just sit around and twiddle your thumbs.’
        • ‘If I didn't come here in the night, I'd be sitting around at home, twiddling my thumbs and thinking about going to a real bar.’
        • ‘All that sitting around twiddling my thumbs, and pretty soon even the dishes seemed like an interesting option.’
        • ‘Another friend said: ‘Anyone who knows Mike knows that the one thing he won't do in prison is sit around and twiddle his thumbs.’’
        • ‘But scientists, if they are to remain any good at what they do, have to keep on doing it - they can't just wait around twiddling their thumbs for five years and still be able to put together a credible bid.’
        • ‘But don't think for a second Harris is going to sit around twiddling his thumbs.’
        • ‘He's hardly the kind to sit around twiddling his thumbs.’
        • ‘Everyone sat around looking embarrassed and twiddling their thumbs as usual.’
        • ‘He and I are alike; we yearn for something we cannot find by sitting around, twiddling our thumbs.’
        • ‘Instead of twiddling your thumbs and letting frustration get the best of you, why not hit the road and discover the hidden treasures of the Vigie Peninsula?’
        have nothing to do, kick one's heels, do nothing, be idle, be unoccupied, sit around, kill time, waste time
        View synonyms

Origin

Mid 16th century (in the sense ‘trifle’): apparently imitative, combining the notion twirl or twist with that of trifling action expressed by fiddle.

Pronunciation

twiddle

/ˈtwɪd(ə)l/